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GIEWS Update-detail

In Nicaragua, a prolonged drought has caused extensive damages to the 2004/05 first season food crops, mainly maize and beans crops about to be harvested. The most affected municipalities are in the north and north-west departments of León, Chinandega, Madriz, Esteli and Matagalpa. The National Institute of Territorial Studies (INETER) reports that cumulative precipitation from the beginning of the rainy season in May to the end of July has been 55 per cent less than average in León and 35 per cent less in Chinandega.

Preliminary estimates of the Ministry of Agriculture indicate that about 63 270 hectares of maize and to 22 000 hectares of beans have been lost due to dry weather conditions. This represents a reduction of the area to be harvested for maize of about 23 per cent from the good level of last year’s same season. The first (“de primera”) season accounts for some 60 per cent. of the aggregate (first, second and third seasons) annual production of maize and, therefore, the prolonged dry weather of the current season will negatively affect the 2004 output. For beans, which are mostly cultivated in the third season, the reduction of the area harvested in the first season is estimated at about 8 percent.

However, in several communities of the most affected areas, losses of the area planted to maize and beans are estimated between 50 and 100 per cent of plantings, as shown in the maps below. These communities are among the poorest in the country, where farmers essentially produce for self-consumption. The food situation of these populations is reported to be tight and could deteriorate in the coming months. In order to support production of the second “de postrera” season maize and beans crops, to be planted from September, the Ministry of Agriculture is distributing certified seeds and fertilizers to drought-affected farmers in the departments of León and Chinandega using funds of the programme ‘Libra por libra’.